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Techly Explains

Techly Explains: How long is the perfect nap?

It’s an age-old question which has left friendships shattered in its wake.

Some can nap for three hours, others draw the line at a quick, 20-minute rejuvenating nap. Is it a strictly mid-afternoon, post-lunch thing? Or can you go for a late-morning lie-down?

After conducting some extremely thorough research, which didn’t involve having a quick snooze in the office meeting room at all, we’re here to answer your most burning questions about napping – and help you optimise your nap to reap the biggest benefits.

Has napping always been a thing?

If you’ve ever been to Spain or South America, you will have experienced the “siesta” period of the day. For the Latino and Spanish of the world, napping is very definitely a thing and has been for thousands of years.

Having a daytime doze actually dates all the way back to ancient Islam; it’s even written about in the Koran and is recorded in Islamic law.

Who naps the most?

Mostly considered to be in the peak of their careers or busy growing a family, it may come as a surprise to find those between 30 and 49 are most likely to take some time out of their day to catch some shuteye.

Clearly, that busy lifestyle is taking its toll.

Meanwhile, whilst 31 per cent of women habitually take a quick nap, 38 per cent of men admitted they were taking time in their day to catch some Zs.

Should we be napping?

Good news, nappers: the short answer is yes!

Research conducted on pilots proved that a 25-minute nap improved alertness by 54 per cent and overall performance by 34 per cent.

A Harvard study revealed a 45-minute nap can improve learning and memory – definitely something to mention to your teacher or lecturer if you’re caught having a doze in class.

How long should we be napping for?

We’ve searched high and low to find a one-word answer for you here, but it’s just a little bit more complicated than that.

If you can bear with the science, you’ll be thanking us later.

A sleep cycle moves through five stages across 90 minutes. The first four involve non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and the fifth stage is rapid eye movement (REM).

If you can limit yourself to waking up within the first 10 – 20 minutes, aka the lightest stage of NREM, you will reap a whole lot of benefits. A short power nap will enhance your performance and boost your mood.

Waking up within deep NREM sleep (30 – 60 minutes) will leave you feeling groggy and disorientated – in fact, it’s more likely to hinder your alertness rather than help it.

But if you make it to 90 minutes, you’ve come full circle. Your body goes through the whole sleep cycle and you awaken from your sleep like the Sleeping Beauty you are. Sadly, most of us don’t have the time in our day to lie down for an hour and a half, but if you want to do it properly, that’s the reality.

Essentially, you’ll perform best after a very short or very long sleep, anything in between and you’ll be left forgetting what day it is and where your keys are.

So next time you’re caught resting your head at work, just mention it’s an ancient-Islamic practice necessary to improve your learning and motor skills.

You are so welcome.

About the author

Alice is a Londoner who quit her 9 – 5 job and bought a one way ticket to Sydney. Usually found pining after Leonardo DiCaprio, drinking red wine and keeping her Instagram “on point” via @alicesantics.

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